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Mobile phone security & privacy

Mobile phones carry a vast amount of data; not just your contacts but also logs of calls made and received, and of SMS messages sent and received. They can reveal a lot about you; for example, the list of all your contacts in your mobile phone shows exactly who you are working with. If you are working on a politically sensitive issue this can put you and everyone you work with at risk. There are obvious security concerns for people who use mobile phones to record video or take photos in sensitive situations. If a phone is confiscated or found with footage in it that incriminates others, those people could be put at risk as well as the phone's owner. Great caution should be exercised at all times. Special care needs to be taken if and when this content is transmitted over the mobile network as mobile phone service providers can be pressured to hand over records of activity on particular phones. Networks also automatically track the location of each and every active mobile phone – this is done for the purposes of routing calls and messages. This means that members of the public (or at least their phones) can be pinpointed to a specific location at a specific time. The only way to ensure your location cannot be identified is to turn your phone off and remove its battery. Mobile phone cameras also routinely store the location where an image was taken, along with details of date, time and the type of camera or phone used. This information, or metadata, is stored as part of the JPEG standard which is the file format most commonly used for digital images. This information could be useful to you in some circumstances – to prove that you were in a particular place at a particular time to witness an event – but it could also get you into trouble, depending on the situation. Tools are available which enable this ‘hidden’ information to be viewed, and (in most cases) removed, before the image is forwarded to others. You can download a free tool called JPEG Stripper ( which will help you remove metadata from your images.